Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Trailers: The Avengers #3, Tomorrowland, San Andreas #2, Penny Dreadful Season 2

I am so tired, I can barely write, and I do apologize. Nothing in life gives me greater pleasure than working on this blog, which is probably why I get so little time to actually spend on it. As always, my very deepest gratitude to all of you who continue to stop by regardless of my inability to get a new post up for you. Kenneth Branaugh's Cinderella opens this week and Insurgent, the sequel to Divergent, opens March 20 (tickets are all ready selling out).
This is something of a strange picture: Cinderella is slightly off center, and Prince Charming is barely squeezed in (part of his arm is even beyond the frame). What does this formal composition convey to the viewer? Perhaps, that Cinderella isn't the "center" of the story as she has been in the past. What is she going to share the center stage with? Probably that chair,... the sconce, drapes and other decor. Why? They are material goods, specifically, the material goods of the upper-class. Now please hold that thought for just a moment while I expand upon it in a different direction. As we have all ready seen in the trailers, Cinderella and the Prince meet in the woods while he's on a hunting expedition, and during that meeting, he tells her that he is a palace employee named Kit (so he's hiding his upper, 1% status from her; this part isn't in the trailers, but has been circulated on the net because it has all ready been released in the UK). Secondly, before she reveals herself to be a magical being, the fairy godmother disguises herself--as the Prince disguises himself--as a beggar woman and watches Cinderella from afar. Cinderella herself went from being of noble birth and class to a servant girl. What does all this mean? There is an awful lot of "class-umping" going on in the film. On another note, Stellan Skarsgard, from Thor, which Branaugh also directed, is in the picture as a Duke; in and of itself, this isn't a big coincidence, until you throw in another Marvel Universe character: Agent Peggy Carter. The love of Captain America, Hayley Atwell is Cinderella's mother in this film. So, what is my long-winded point? Branaugh sets the stage for a materialist debate in his film, and by incorporating characters we know from pro-capitalist films--Agent Carter and Professor Erik Selvig--Branaugh uses Cinderella as a piece for public debate. We know there are deviations from the original--like Cinderella and the Prince meeting before the ball, and the fairy godmother presenting herself as a beggar woman, Cate Blanchett's Lady Tremaine entering into a shady political arrangement regarding the Prince, etc.,--and it's through this marginal additions to the story that Branaugh is going to weave for us, not just a modern fairy tale, but the reason why we still need those fairy tales.   
This third trailer for The Avengers: Age Of Ultron has broken a 24-hour viewing record with something like 35 million views; why? Because it validates everything I have been saying for two years now:
Before we go into this trailer, let's talk about how the "Civil War" that will ignite--possibly at the end of The Age Of Ultron--probably in Captain America 3 (and Thor 3 has begun principal photography, hooray!). There are some super-heroes who, in the course of vanquishing a villain--accidentally kill a large group of school children; as a result, some of the heroes, such as Tony Stark, promote and support a government bill requiring all heroes to register with the government; other heroes, such as Captain America, refuse and resist. The civil war, then, is the Stark-lead group hunting and capturing/killing the Rogers-lead group. I mention this now, because we see in this trailer the "seeds" of what is going to be the impetus for Stark to join forces with the government, that he has never trusted up until now.
So, some theaters are having a really epic marathon: for just $65/person, you can see all the Avengers' 11 films in a 24-hour period. Regrettably, my theater isn't doing this--I probably wouldn't be able to make it anyway--but I probably will do a binge-weekend the weekend before with the films that I do have in my collection. 
As we know, all art is a metaphor: if the film makers, in this case, just came out and declared what their beliefs are, that would be preaching, not art-making, and the chances are, no one would listen to them. By encoding their beliefs into a narrative, their arguments take on a more persuasive manner, because we think we are seeing their beliefs in "real time," as actual possibilities of reality; when you see a trailer, and--by the end of the 2:00--you decide, "That looks good," or "That doesn't look very good," your brain has gone through an intense, mystical and massive decoding binge, recognizing certain features or the absence of features to determine whether or not that is, literally, "good" (as in, the opposite of "evil," and in-line with your personal belief system) or "not good," and closer to "evil," in which case, you most likely are not going to have anything to do with it.
"Do not pray for an easy life," Bruce Lee (right) said, "pray for the strength to endure a difficult one." We see Stark wearing a Bruce Lee T-shirt in the trailer; why? Lee not only became the very best at what he did, he became a legend; how? He was getting beat up in street fights, so his father started teaching him martial arts. Had it not been for those street fights, the world would not have had Bruce Lee, likewise, had Stark not been kidnapped and filled with shrapnel, and forced to escape in the events of Iron Man, we wouldn't have Iron Man. None of us like for bad things to happen to us, but--as Christians--we know there is a redemptive element that God will not allow something bad to happen to us unless something better is going to be brought out from it. Stark has a good impulse regarding wanting to protect the world and do all he can to save it, but there is only so much we can do, and in our arrogance of thinking we can do more (who would ever associate Tony Stark with arrogance, right?) we make the situation that much more dangerous and no good comes from it at all.
I'm arguing that 35 million views of a trailer means that a lot of people think this movie looks "good" and at least some of those reasons are political (come on, you knew this was coming). Jumping ahead to Civil War: what happens with school kids getting killed, that makes the government push for registration of something? An armed gunman going into a school and killing kids makes the government push for gun registration; Tony Stark is going to support "this" (metaphorically speaking) which means a dismantling of the Constitution that Captain America will not tolerate. Now we are in a position to understand what Tony Stark is really saying in this trailer,....
Quicksilver and his little sister Scarlet Witch; we have all ready seen these characters, played by different actors, in X-Men Days Of Future Past, but in terms of The Avengers, we know they start off being bad--united to Ultron--but then change sides. Being so young, they clearly symbolize America's youth who (supposedly) carried Obama to a White House victory (I'll never believe it) but who may slowly be waking up to realize what they have done wrong in choosing the side they have chosen.
"I was designed to save the world," Ultron tells two, young and inexperienced power-houses; what is it that was meant to be a "symbol of hope" that has, instead, taken hope from us and has tried to get the younger generation to support it? Obama's socialism. "There's only one path to peace: their extinction" is a line we have been hearing in other Marvel films, but also the recent The Kingsman: the Secret Service and Valentine's crazy plan, as well as The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Mass extinction is an important detail because that is exactly what is being advocated to be done by the New World Order plan.
Robert Downey Jr has recently said that he wouldn't put the label "bad guy" on Stark in the film, and that's surely acceptable: Stark is one of the reasons why the Marvel franchise has been so successful, and they aren't going to jeopardize that, however, that doesn't mean Stark isn't going to make mistakes, and we all ready get a hint of that from this latest trailer. 
"I tried to create a suit of armor around the world," we hear Stark say, and Banner fills in the gap, "Artificial intelligence." In and of itself, AI isn't bad: each time you use an ATM, or self-checkout, you are engaging with AI. Again, Stark's plan is one of "control" rather than one of reality. "Isn't the reason why we fight so we can end the fight and go home?" Sure, it is; how could any of us go on in our day-to-day battles without the thought that we get to go home at the end of it? But this is where we have to remember another trailer we have seen: the competition to lift Thor's hammer and proving one's self worthy.
That battle, doesn't end.
At the very end, we see our first glimpse of another Avenger, The Vision. This is keenly accomplished: as you may know, Paul Bettany (Margin Call) did the voice of Tony Stark's JARVIS, his AI home security system; now, he's an AI android who, at some point, ends up marrying Scarlet Witch....? Like Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, it's believes that The Vision stars out on Ultron's side, but switches to help the Avengers defeat Ultron. Why is this important? It reflects reality: as Obama's approval numbers continue to plunge, people are fleeing the Democratic party, just as Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and The Vision are leaving Ultron. On the other hand, we have what will probably be a very-pro-socialist film in George Clooney's Tomorrowland:
The film is appealing to Millennials just as Ultron tries to do with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in The Avengers. Tomorrowland is a utopia of technology and secularism, and in order for that communist future to be secured, the kids have to give themselves over to it today (in New Mexico, a high school is having a prom with a communist theme). The second trailer for San Andreas with Dwayne Johnson and the biggest earthquake in history has been released:
This is done incredibly well. Remember, the song California Dreaming is playing in the background, as liberal Hollywood is being shaken to its foundations to turn it into another Detroit. Arguably, one of the richest and most creative cities in the world is the cause of its own destruction.
There are three interesting elements to this poster, which is the most unique poster I have seen in awhile. First, please notice where we, the viewers are: we are in the sinkhole, about to be swallowed up. Why? The film assumes--and probably rightly--that we are "in the dark" and don't realize that we are being "consumed" by the events taking place. Secondly, please note the white car on the ledge, about to fall backwards into the abyss. This probably symbolizes the car industry as a whole; why is this important? As we will see in Mad Max Fury Road, not only is it essential that our guns be taken away from us, but our cars, too, and our ability to express our free will by freedom to travel and unlimited mobility is a forthcoming threat the Obama Administration is going to wage upon us shortly. Thirdly, please note, on the helicopter above, the cross made by the back-end. He climbs towards that to save himself and whoever he's rescuing, and that's a fairly clear symbol that--in order to get through this disaster--we must reach for the Cross.
As we have discussed previously, the huge rift we see opening up in the earth is a sign of the civil war in the United States: not just between liberal Hollywood and conservative Americans (the low viewership of the Oscars was a battle on that particular front) but also of American vs American; why don't you research #47Traitors on Twitter: these liberals are so dumb, they don't even know that Israel is an ally of the US, Iran the enemy, or how treaties are signed or how Iran is trying to get a nuke so blow us up; not to mention, they think Obama has a foreign policy in place, but hasn't had a policy in place on anything other than that of denial. Anyway, sorry about that; I think this is going to be a truly good film, and not just because of the special effects.
"No rest for the wicked." Why? "The wicked" could refer to the cast of characters we know, Malcolm, Vanessa, Ethan, etc., but it probably refers to the really wicked, Madame Kali and her band of witches. Why would they not get any rest? Because Vanessa and Ethan are fighting them; in spite of their sins, in spite of their darkness, they are fighting, and trying to save their souls. I will discuss this in far greater depth when I get to the Exorcism episode, but for now, know that Vanessa doesn't choose to be exorcised because, to do so, would be to choose to cease her spiritual battle to fulfill her destiny in virtuous capacity (her other choice is to become like Mina: "Why do you think I want to be saved?" she asks her father in the last episode, just before trying to condemn Vanessa with herself). Without the torments of the demons that tempt and torment us, we would not choose Christ, we would be lulled to sleep by our senses and take the gentle sloping road to hell. Please remember this: it's not just Vanessa that the devil wants to make "the mother of all evil," he wants to do that with each and every one of us; not a single human is immune from the temptations, tricks and lies of Satan and his followers, and they are all meant towards one end: keeping us out of heaven. "Death comes for everyone," as the trailer below ends, where will death take you?
A new behind-the-scenes short video has been released for Penny Dreadful Season 2 and it contains some new footage and insights. Again, the main reason I have been so thrilled with this series is because, when we see any of these characters committing sins, it's a monster who is doing it, so--like SALEM--the act is being condemned because of the one committing it, which is quite counter-cultural:
Again, when this is taking place, Charles Darwin's Origin Of Species has been published for quite some time, but PD spits in its face: you can't have evolution and werewolves, exorcisms and vampires; this is a mutually exclusive scenario, and the creators have come out on the side of the supernatural, not science and evolution, which is what I want to see, because that means--as the show well demonstrates--that spiritual battles are real, and they are being fought for our very souls. If you aren't fighting a spiritual battle, you are losing your soul. Now, why the bloody scorpion? We know, from the first episode Night Work, that the scorpion is on the card that Vanessa urges Ethan to choose and it stands for The Lovers. Ethan choosing the card from the deck is mirrored in Vanessa choosing Ethan from all the possible candidates establishes the intangible bond forming between them.
Again, thank you for your patience during this time!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner